Dubai’s X-Architects design desert resort in Saudi Arabia

The project sits in Saudi Arabia’s Empty Quarter and draws inspiration from the surrounding desert landscape.

Dubai-based architecture practice X-Architects, which was founded in 2003 by principal architects Ahmed Al-Ali and Farid Esmaeil, has recently released its winning design for a desert hideaway resort in Saudi Arabia.

To be located in the country’s Rub’ Al Khali area, the 60-key luxury hospitality project draws its architectural expression directly from the reddish sand dunes that cover the surrounding landscape, as well as the white salt flats, known as ‘sabkhas’. Hoping to enhance the experience of visitors, X-Architects imagined “a constellation of architecture strategically placed on the vast terrain”.

The project consists of dune-shaped units that maintain views of the nearby sabkhas, as well as a main arrival hall inspired by natural carvings found in the local landscape. Elsewhere, a spa featuring white salt surfaces, allows guests to revel in the healing quality of the earthly minerals available onsite. Featuring slivers of horizontally placed walls, the space allows in filtered sunlight through the incisions on its surfaces.

The architects hoped to “create a strong relationship between architecture and landscape, [thus] the interior spaces were carved from dunes to form sand-filled columns”. Their approach can also be seen in the Dune units, which follow the texture of the terrain and bear a minimal impact on the land. The Flower Villa, too, is inspired by the desert rose and boasts an elongated and enclosed structure made of polymer fiber mesh.

The entire project will span 240,000 square metres.

X-Architects became internationally known after winning the Aga Khan Award for Architecture last year for their design of Sharjah’s Wasit Wetland Visitor Centre.